Whether our leaders should abide by principles of leadership and integrity as outlined in the constitution should not really be a topic of contention. It should also not be contentious that the legislation that ensures that the leaders we elect met the standards of leadership and integrity should be as robust and unambiguous as possible. As voters we should fairly expect to hold our leaders, both elected and appointed, to certain leadership, moral and ethical standards. More so because our leaders are not offering free, altruistic services, elected government positions in Kenya are some of the best-remunerated posts in the world. So it is only fair that we, the taxpayers, expect a certain standard of leadership from those we elect in return for our tax shillings.
Chapter Six of the constitution is supposed to offer a solution to the to the deficit of leadership and integrity that exists in public/state office and institutions, particularly as regards elective and appointed positions. Chapter Six does this by providing constitutional benchmarks by which we, the public, can vet holders/seekers of public office. The Leadership and Integrity Bill, 2012 is meant to provide a road map for the how we make practical the provisions of Chapter Six of the constitution.
However in a depressingly predictable fashion the Cabinet has significantly altered the provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Bill, weakening the Bill so much that in words of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) the Bill is no more than a “statement of intent with no real mechanism of realising that intent.”
The CIC points out a number of flaws in its opinion on the Cabinet’s revised version of the Leadership and Integrity Bill. The CIC notes that the Cabinet failed to incorporate proposals received from the public on what should be contained in a leadership and integrity law. The CIC also notes that the Bill, in its revised form, fails to provide for transparent procedures or mechanisms for the effective administration of Chapter Six i.e. the bill does not provide for a vetting process for people seeking elected office, nor does it provide for a mechanism to ensure that those seeking elective positions meet ethical and moral requirements laid out in the constitution. The bill also fails to provide for public participation in the vetting of persons seeking elective positions. Clauses on wealth disclosure, and requirement of certification from the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) have been removed and the Bill fails provide mechanism that would allow the EACC to prosecute cases of breach of Chapter Six.
For these reasons the CIC posits that the Leadership and Integrity Bill as published “is ineffective in implementing Chapter six of the constitution and contains clauses that are unconstitutional…the Bill places on all public officers requirements for compliance that contravene the letter, spirit and intent of the constitution and chapter six” the CIC also notes “that in the absence of a legislative mechanism for vetting persons seeking State office, Kenyans will be forced to resort to the courts for appropriate declarations, a process that will be costly, time consuming and which should be the last resort.”
The codification of ethical and moral standards for leaders in the constitution, and in legislation is an acknowledgement of the deficit of integrity in our leadership and the need to change the status quo. The Cabinet in mutilating the Leadership and Integrity Bill is not only shirking its responsibility to tackle the deficit seems intent on thwarting any efforts to do so.
The CIC has reached out to Parliament to see if the damage done by the Cabinet to the Leadership and Integrity Bill can be reversed through the legislature. It will be interesting to see to whether the Legislature will step up or let the changes made by the Cabinet to the Bill stand.
We’ll be watching.